Heart Surgery
Heart Surgery

Heart Surgery What Is Heart Surgery?

Four surgeons operating on a patient in an operating room

Heart surgery is done to correct problems with the heart. Your provider may recommend surgery after lifestyle changes, medicines, or other procedures no longer work. Heart surgery may also be done in an emergency situation, such as a heart attack. Each year, more than 2 million people around the world have open-heart surgery to treat various heart problems.

People of all ages can have heart surgery. This topic has information about heart surgery for adults. For more information about heart surgery for children, visit our Congenital Heart Defects topic.

Depending on your heart problem, your healthcare provider may suggest different types of heart surgery. These can range from minimally invasive surgical options to open-heart surgeries that may require a longer recovery time. Before surgery, your provider may order tests to determine which type of heart surgery will work best for you.

Many heart conditions can be treated with heart surgery. For example, using surgical techniques, surgeons can:

  • Repair or replace heart valves, which control blood flow through the heart
  • Repair abnormal or damaged structures in the heart
  • Implant medical devices that help control the heartbeat or support heart function and blood flow
  • Replace a damaged heart with a healthy heart from a donor

As with any type of surgery involving the heart, there are some risks. The risks are generally higher if surgery is done in an emergency situation (to treat a heart attack, for example) or if you have another health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease. For many people, the results of heart surgery are excellent. Heart surgery can reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and improve the chances of survival.

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